2008 Europe Travel Blog
May 26, 2008
Mental toughness has been a phrase thrown around in various situations this week, but it was no more appropriate than yesterday.
The day started as we packed up in Mechelen and headed for Paris. One stop along the way was Waterloo, where Napoleon lost. If you have never been to Waterloo, it is 226 stairs to a 28-metric ton statue of a lion. The view is amazing, but is easily trumped by the relief of sitting down at the top. The site also features a panoramic painting/diorama of the battle of Waterloo.
After the workout... er... sight-seeing stop, it was on to Paris. The traffic is amazing. I have been to New York and Chicago, but that did not prepare for the spectacle that is traffic with no lines and a lot of cars. Francis, our bus driver, gave us a quick tour of where many of the monuments are before taking us to our hotel near the Eiffel Tower.
We set out on two separate tours, the first group, which featured 16 people in our traveling party did a boat tour. The other 10 of us planned to see the Louvre before heading to the Notre Dame Cathedral to see and meet for dinner. Well, the Louvre was closed at 6 p.m. The Cathedral was closed at 6:30 p.m. So, we saw neither.
Rather, we hit the metro and headed to the Arc de Triumphe. To put it mildly, it was awesome. More stairs, but the view was well worth it. Mental toughness number two was the estimated 273-283 stairs (Coach Roux counted up and down and came up with two numbers) up to the top. Once there, you could see all of Paris. It also allowed an opportunity for great pictures with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Our group, with new plans thrown out in haste was a wee bit late to dinner, but it was hardly noticed. We ate at a restaurant that translates to "The Recruiting Sargent". A brief history, to get people to enlist, the sargent would lure them in with all you can eat meats, cheeses and chocolate, with all the wine they could drink. Then, when properly "motivated", he would get them to enlist in the army.
Dinner was great. We needed the energy, as mental toughness number three came when we found out the metro was closed. A man told us it was a 20 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower and, being the naive tourists we are, we walked... four miles.
Anyway, it is great to be back at the hotel and tomorrow we have the Eiffel Tower to look forward to in the morning... which is a more manageable two blocks and features a novel concept called an "elevator".